Planet Iron Blogger SF

March 01, 2021

Doctor Popular

New thumbnails for old videos

Youtube thumbnails are tricky. You want them to be good, but you spent all that hard work making the video and you forgot to get a nice photo. I recently hired an illustrator to spice up some of my yo-yo videos. These were some great episodes, so I’m stoked to have art that better represents that.

Here are links to the videos:

The illustrator I used is rickevam and can be found on Fiverr. Don’t forget to tip.

There are many other great artists on Fiverr for this type of job too. Here’s another great artist I hired to create a thumbnail for the “Do Something Cool” video:

The post New thumbnails for old videos appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at March 01, 2021 06:39 PM


online spaces

This coming week will be one year since COVID-19 arrived in NY and ended up migrating us to a primarily digital world. Truth be told, I’ve been struggling to connect with online experiences this whole dang year. So it felt important to me to name some online spaces that worked for me this week as I adjust more and more to this reality, for better or worse 🍥🍥🍥

  1. zoom study hall, a virtual office! but with your friends!

My friend Reid has started sending out a group text every so often: “Study hall?”

Zoom Study Hall has been a lifesaver for: a) feeling less alone as I sit at my computer and type away all day, b) creating some social reinforcement of focus-time. can’t mess around on Twitter all day if I’m being lovingly judged through Zoom…

We’re all working on different things, and it’s a nice space to also brainstorm and work through our very different problems together.

P.S. Reid just released a single on Spotify and is a brilliant artist with much more coming, so stay tuned:

P.P.S. if this sounds fun to you and you ever have a block of unstructured time where you have to get things done and want virtual company, lmk lmk (❁´◡`❁)

  1. a zoom live reading of an abhorrent tv show performed in caricature by some of my favorite people on the internet.

several cast members of the show who had been just mocked relentlessly for an hour revealed themselves at the end (!!!) and took it in stride

(kevin kreider and kelly mi li on the bottom right in screenshot above).

About a year in, and there’s hope yet for live zoom shows

  1. As a faithful watcher of Drag Race, was alerted to this room on Clubhouse this weekend:

It was the most fun I’ve had on Clubhouse so far. I hadn’t quite yet found the right space for conversations I want to overhear (lol isn’t that what Clubhouse is for?), but this was an irreverent, insightful, caustic, loving, off-the-cuff, truth-telling romp.

by Claire Kao at March 01, 2021 05:15 AM

Vivek Sri

A review of my cat Snacks

We landed on the name “Snacks” well before we had a cat—or even agreed to get one. Pet nomenclature is a matter of some gravity, even if the name is meaningless to the animal.

Human names are completely innapropriate. Imagine a cockatiel named “Hartley” or a schnauser named “Marybeth.” Disgusting. Cross-species naming should be avoided also. Don’t name your dog “chicken.” It’s not cute, and it suggests to others that you may be deficient in intelligence or taste. The naming of cats in particular (not to be jellicle about it) requires somewhat more care; I am now certain that a cat does understand its name and will use that knowledge to mess with your head.

Snacks would turn out to be a domestic shorthair with a tuxedo coat. Though she dresses like Diane Keaton, she lacks the actress’s confidence and verve. When Snacks first emerged from her carrier, she scurried for the nearest corner and stayed there, unmoving, for four days. Snacks is the proverbial ’fraidy cat.

Snacks is also a vocal cat, which I like because I am a pretty vocal cat myself. She has a chiptuned squeak of a mew, which can signal “hello,” “excuse me,” and “when’s lunch?” Now, in spite of her dope and carefully considered appelation, Snacks isn’t much interested in light, intra-meal fare. She cares only for hearty globs of the wet stuff, and will eat as much of it as she can get. Every now and then, she’s convinced me to feed her after she’s already been fed. Snacks is a little bit greedy.

I am loathe to bodyshame my pet, but she’s a chonkers. It’s pointless to deny it. It’s not just the primordial pouch; she thicc. This would not be an issue if Snacks was active, but she is perhaps the most sedentary cat. She does not play. She has rejected most of the toys procured for her. She will feign interest in a particular rainbow-colored ribbon of felt, but only for a moment, and you must deliver the swirling ribbon to within inches of her paw. She’s not about to come to you.

Impressively, Snacks will chase a ball and retrieve it! But after a few rounds, without realizing it, you will find yourself playing game of fetch with yourself; demonstrating how to collect a foam ball to a cat who has long since moved on.

You can’t push her too much. Snacks tolerates one new idea at a time, and she has taught me to be more methodical in my approach to living things. With patience I unlocked the precise sequence of long strokes along her back that makes Snacks melt into a feline puddle on your lap. (Provided it’s before 11am. In the afternoon she’ll be skeptical, and by twilight she’s downright surly.)

Nevertheless, Snacks has persisted. She has grown from the nervous nelly who rounded every unknown corner with dread so many months ago. Snacks’ pattern is not too far removed from the human condition: a journey from abject fear, through trepidation, occasional ennui, doses of mindless consumption, and ultimately, to the warm surrender of familiarity and love.

by A review of my cat Snacks at March 01, 2021 05:02 AM

Certainly Strange

New Quilting Project

Well, despite the fact that I hate quilting, I’m undertaking a new project… we’ll see how it goes.

by Steen at March 01, 2021 04:38 AM


February 28, 2021

Diegetic Games

New Game: Clash at Ikara

I’m excited to share my latest game: Clash at Ikara. It’s a Story Synth game where you tell the story of a group of heroes defending a small community from a bandit attack.

The story is inspired by Seven Samurai and the gameplay is inspired by For the Queen.

Unlike For the Queen, this game plays out over several acts and each act has it’s own deck of prompts:

  1. Meeting the heroes
  2. Preparing the defenses
  3. Fighting the bandits
  4. The aftermath

I’ve been meaning to play with a multi-deck take on For the Queen and this was a perfect project to test it out. I’m very happy with the final version.

If you have a chance to play it, please let me know how it goes!

February 28, 2021 03:00 AM

travis vachon

nifty: artificial scarcity for fun and profit

As humans we are singularly obsessed with scarcity. While we have spent most of our history creating all manner of schemes to outwit the various forms of scarcity we find in this world we inhabit, the flip side of this constant struggle is a marked proclivity toward a sometimes unreasonable drive to own and collect scarce resources. The most scarce of these - unique, one-of-a-kind artifacts - come with price tags full of zeros and entire industries dedicated to telling their stories. The sheer economic volume of the collectibles industry - estimated at $370 billion last year - is testament to the deep and enduring appeal of owning and trading items whose value is derived almost entirely from scarcity.

It is not surprising, then, that Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs for short, are catching a lot of interest right now as their clever trick of cryptography and consensus finds a home in products like NBA Top Shot and the digital real estate being sold in the forthcoming MMORPG Mirandus. As I've learned more about how NFTs work and minted a few myself on top of the Avalanche platform my mind has been bubbling over with visions of treasure hunts, unique mementos, genetic algorithms and special editions of digital art. I'm not entirely sure how much of the current craze is a fad and how much is a hint of a vast new market with serious staying power, but at the very least the flood of digital art and scarce digital artifacts hitting the market right now is fun and full of hidden gems.

a nifty experiment

As an exercise in getting familiar with the wide world of NFTs I've decided to run a little experiment. I've minted 10 special NFTs of a special version of the capybara that graces the home page of this website:

an outline of a capybara made up of characters with a pink glow

If you'd like to be one of the 10 lucky folks to get one of these 10-of-a-kind digital artifacts, create an Avalanche wallet here and send me your X-Chain address, which you can find in the upper right corner of the "Portfolio" screen after creation.

If you know how to get in touch with me, feel free to send me your wallet address there, otherwise you can use the following form to tell me where I can send your special NFT:

Happy treasure hunting!

February 28, 2021 12:00 AM

February 27, 2021

I Like Turtles



February 27, 2021 05:00 AM

February 26, 2021


🫖 .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

February 26, 2021 06:20 PM

February 25, 2021


Without being able to inspect the cups in person, I wasn’t...

Without being able to inspect the cups in person, I wasn’t actually sure from the pictures what the clay body or glaze was, so i went with my gut. (Is the glaze white or transparent? Is that yellow from the cup or the lighting? Are the speckles in the clay body?) It’d say it ended up close enough! @bbenderevans sent me this picture that made my day.⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

February 25, 2021 06:20 PM

February 24, 2021


Something I learned from experience is to make the filter holes...

Something I learned from experience is to make the filter holes big enough on the inside of a teapot! Clay shrinks a lot from wet to twice fired. On my very first teapot, the holes ended up so small that they pasted shut from the glaze. I dremeled hideous holes on the inside so it could still be functional. I think I have the sizing dialed in now 😅⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #teapot #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

February 24, 2021 06:20 PM

February 22, 2021


A dear friend of mine recently acquired a set of teacups that...

A dear friend of mine recently acquired a set of teacups that his late grandfather had made. A friend of his reached out to me to make a matching teapot as a surprise. What a fun commission, and such a thoughtful gift! ⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

February 22, 2021 05:20 PM


road paintings

I came across the most beautiful sight on a walk around the neighborhood this week! The roads here are all on an incline, so these lovely road paintings were created after:

  1. a fair amount of snowfall, followed by;

  2. an industrious snowplow salting and sanding the roads, followed by;

  3. a nice little rain

I was enamored with these part man-made, part nature-formed tableaux and thought the water and sand were running down the asphalt in a way that looked eerily like the Chinese shan shui paintings of yore:

Image result for shen zhou lofty mountainLofty Mountain by Shen Zhou

The reverence I was feeling at the hands of my shan shui road paintings was then called out in a book I’m reading right now: The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

Alan Watts’ book is a rumination on the idea of psychological security. And how it can prove even more elusive when we actively seek out stability and control in an unknowable, uncontrollable world. Basically, it’s a self-help book 😎

One of his most important points is that experiencing something wholly can get distracted by attempts to explain/describe/articulate it in the moment. Thinking to yourself “I am happy” vs. actually being happy. Basically that words and language fail to express a tremendous amount, and to never miss the spirit of a thing in an attempt to name it.

In one of his first examples of this idea, he brings up Chinese landscape painting as an art-form that would be entirely unappreciated if representational art were intended to be purely literal:

If I can think of painting only as a way of making colored photographs without a camera, I can see nothing but ineptitude in a Chinese landscape.

Which is a quote that brings my road paintings, experience of wonderment, AND my attempt to describe it to you here full circle

w(°o°)w (◎0◎)꒳ᵒ꒳

Though I experienced a very pretty depiction of nature & man this week, many in Texas are facing extreme, life-threatening circumstances due to the winter storm and ensuing electricity supply crisis this week. A good friend in Texas has shared the most important mutual aid funds doing immediate life-saving work and this is where I felt my support could go to the most needy and under-served. If you haven’t already, I recommend donating a little somethin to these Venmo handles:





While my Venmo feed is typically filled with inane emojis, “drinksssssssss”, “1/2 rent December 2020”, it was so, so uplifting to see the flooding of payments to these extremely worthwhile orgs all throughout the week ✨

by Claire Kao at February 22, 2021 05:10 AM

Vivek Sri

Word of the Day: Cocktail

A beverage made of brandy, whisky, or gin, iced, flavored, and sweetened.

Long ago, bartenders didn’t bother with bottles. They slung spirits from the barrel using a tap—or cock. When the barrels got low, and straits got dire, you’d commingle the dregs, the “cock-tails,” into a single glass and serve over ice. Thus, the cocktail was discovered.

I don’t believe this story and neither should you.

I discovered the cocktail a dozen years ago. A lemon drop changed my mind, turning hard liquor into easy math. Two years after that profound sip, I took a bartending course. The kind that used terms like “build drinks” and eschewed terms like “mixologist.” I shook and stirred my way to a certificate. I was going to be a builder of drinks.

And right after that my spirit was slung, unexpectedly, to San Francisco, California; origin of the lemon drop, terminus of my bartending aspirations. As penance, I doubled down on consumption. I downed drinks like novels and read them the same way. They say there are seven basic plots, and I say every glass is a variation on a theme: Guy loves spirit. Guy also loves sweet. A chase scene with bitters, a fight scene with lime, and a wedding in act three.

Cocktails are remixes. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet and the Manhattan is a whiskey martini. What’s a Cape Codder but a Cosmo that lives in the suburbs? Every rum punch is every rum punch, and yet each is a harlequin unto itself. The sazerac is a somber cognac in a psychedelic suit; the aviation cocktail is a stumbling dry gin in a tuxedo jacket. Every drink is a story and every story is a spoonful of honey to make the medicine go down.

I don’t drink cocktails anymore. I’ve tried mocktails, but they are as risible as the name suggests. A drink without spirit is a corpse, ain’t it?

I don’t miss drinking cocktails, but I sure do miss mixing them.

by Word of the Day: Cocktail at February 22, 2021 04:47 AM

Certainly Strange

Mango Sticky Rice

I recently got a bunch of dried butterfly pea flowers because they make a very beautiful blue color. Most recently I decided to make some mango sticky rice with them, to make the rice blue!

by Steen at February 22, 2021 03:26 AM


I posted a bitcoin wallet on my blog and this is what happened

I posted a bitcoin wallet on my blog and this is what happened

February 22, 2021 03:00 AM

Doctor Popular

Pre-stilled Vodka Martini

I just had a realization yesterday and wanted to share it here:

The post Pre-stilled Vodka Martini appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at February 22, 2021 02:45 AM

Issac Kelly

Our Home Server

It's come up a few times recently that we run a home server.

I don't recommend it to most people, but if computers are your career or your hobby, it might be interesting to you.

The cheapest way to buy one is to go on ebay and search for terms that sound right. "2u supermicro" netted me a 16 core box with 32GB of ram for $200. The problem with this approach is that its easy to buy way too much computer and then you have to power it all of the time. I once got a computer for $75 that was a killer deal at the time, but consumed 300w at "idle" all by itself. Sizing your computer is probably out of scope here, but buying too much has a real energy and dollar cost.

What do we do with it?

Philosophically, I'd like to be more digitally self-reliant, and that requires some hobby-sysadmin time.

Roughly ordered by "Number of times I use it in a week"

  • Mattermost - Chat - Think "self hosted slack". It's even API compatible in many ways. Used for free chat with my immediate and extended family. For long-running chat groups, slack wants to convert you to a paid plan to get your history or to have a certain amount of storage, this is a fine alternative. No complaints.
  • HomeAssistant - Runs our lights and thermostat
  • Grafana - Plots things that are important like energy use and air quality. This is the best interface to a time series database, and it's pretty passable for other tabular data.
  • Reading - RSS, Read it later (TTRSS and Wallabag respectively)
  • Odd Projects - I have some random projects that having a dedicated server for is nice. I fetch transit times, I have my own redirects service
  • Wiki - Replaces google docs for some family stuff like insurance cards
  • Backups - I have nearly 30TB of redundant spinning rust at my service. Most recently I found a backup from an apple from 2013 that had a dogecoin wallet worth $2500. We bought a cheap electric bike with the proceeds.
  • Plex - All my ripped mp3s, and all the sesame street I could find.

by Issac Kelly at February 22, 2021 01:14 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

Major League Hacking Mentorship

I am again excited to be participating in the MLH Fellowship, a 12-week program pairing promising young developers with mentors and experts working in the world of open-source software development. It is a fantastic program that has allowed me to work together with talented students all over the world.

This semester’s fellows are assisting with the development of howdoi, a simple tool for finding answers to common programming questions.

If you’d like to lend a hand or follow our progress, check out the issues page to drop me a line.

February 22, 2021 12:17 AM

Randy Lubin

February 21, 2021

Raymond Cheng

Iron Blogger SF

I love writing. I miss that aspect of working in research. You see the slightest thread of an insight, and then just keep pulling on it through reading related work, writing, and iterating, until you’ve formed a coherent thought to share with the world. Not everything I write is equally insightful (or coherent) to others, but I always enjoy the writing process nonetheless. In academia, writing took the form of technical papers that might only see the light of day on Arxiv. Nowadays, my preferred medium is blogging, but without dedicating time to writing, it just doesn’t happen.

That’s why I’m really glad that I found a community of like-minded bloggers in Iron Blogger SF. If you want to write more regularly with other cool folks in San Francisco, I recommend you check it out. There are also local Iron Blogger communities around the world, or you can start your own with the open source code.

The premise is simple – submit one post or creation a week. Miss a week and put $5 toward an evening of free drinks for the group. While meetups have been postponed during the pandemic, we have our fingers crossed on resuming sometime soon. Subscribe to my mailing list or follow me on Twitter to get the latest!

February 21, 2021 07:47 PM

travis vachon

gamestop and pangolin: making markets for fun and profit

In my adventures with Avalanche I've been learning more about decentralized exchanges. This education has been, strangely enough, supercharged by the recent headline-grabbing story about Reddit's r/wallstreetbets community and Gamestop's sudden and dramatic rise and fall.

To me, the most interesting aspect of the Gamestop story was the role of a firm called Citadel Securities that "buys market orders" from Robinhood, the investing app that drove much of the Gamestop buying frenzy. As the market maker, Citadel Securities is able to "front run" trades on Robinhood, sometimes submitting buy orders informed by orders submitted by their clients - ie, Robinhood's users. The fact that this would give them the ability to add momentum and scale to price movement driven by the larger community felt especially relevant after Citadel's sister firm, a hedge fund simply named Citadel, was able to take advantage of a massive Gamestop-short-related loss booked by a competing hedge fund, Melvin Capital, to buy a large portion of their competitor. The United States House Committee on Financial Services is actively investigating speculation that Citadel may have been involved in both the runup and eventual crash after Robinhood suspended trading of Gamestock's stock.

Whether it was intentional or not, watching this unfold drove home how much power liquidity providers - the people who provide the capital to "make" liquid markets - wield in our financial system. When I realized that a new decentralized cryptocurrency exchange built on the Avalanche blockchain gave me the ability to step into this role, even in a small way, I had to give it a shot.

Pangolin (and it's sister project Uniswap) provides you, me and everyone we know with access to the risks and benefits of being a market maker. By adding "liquidity pairs" of tokens to Pangolin, I can play the role of Citadel in the Pangolin exchange, keeping the system flowing, getting transactions fees in return, and earning PNG tokens that will be used to govern the exchange in the long run. Providing liquidity does expose me to a complicated kind of risk called "impermanent loss" and since I don't really understand the ins-and-outs of "liquidity farming" I've kept this a relatively small experiment, but it's certainly giving me a better return than a savings account.

I haven't totally convinced myself that decentralized market makers are less problematic than firms like Citadel, but they certainly seem promising. By being both a user and a "worker" of Pangolin I'm invested in keeping the incentives of liquidity providers and traders aligned, and have an increasing personal stake in the governance of a platform that is providing me with material benefit, and that's a pretty good look in 2021.

February 21, 2021 12:00 AM

February 19, 2021


A nice comparison. I like the definition on the black set—the...

A nice comparison. I like the definition on the black set—the glaze really grips the texture and turns a hint of gold to accentuate features. The crackle glaze kind of pastes over the features so you lose some of that definition, although I find it beautiful in its own way. ⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #chess #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #chess #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #slipcast — view on Instagram

February 19, 2021 05:20 PM

I Like Turtles

Point Reyes


February 19, 2021 05:00 AM

February 18, 2021


Your move. ⁠ ⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade...

Your move. ⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #chess #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #slipcast — view on Instagram

February 18, 2021 05:20 PM

February 17, 2021


For the white set, I used a clear crackle glaze over the white...

For the white set, I used a clear crackle glaze over the white porcelain, and rubbed India ink into the cracks to accentuate them.

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #chess #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #slipcast — view on Instagram

February 17, 2021 06:20 PM

February 16, 2021


These pieces were slipcast from an old mold from the 60’s that I...

These pieces were slipcast from an old mold from the 60’s that I found on eBay. I love the stylistic interpretation of each character—some pieces feel very traditional, yet there are slender curves and details on each that feel more modern.

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #chess #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #slipcast — view on Instagram

February 16, 2021 05:20 PM

February 15, 2021


I broke one of the bishops and had to remake it. It’s the...

I broke one of the bishops and had to remake it. It’s the exact same glaze, but here you can see the difference that firing can make. The left side shows the result of a slow cooling program, where the kiln ramps down slowly after hitting peak. This is a way to encourage crystallization, which was something I was exploring in other pieces in that particular firing back when I fired the original set. The right side is the product of natural cooling, meaning the kiln reached peak temp around 2230F and shut off to cool naturally.⁠ I really like the mattifying effect on the slow-cooled set. ⁠
#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #glazechemistry #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #wheelthrown — view on Instagram

February 15, 2021 05:20 PM

Certainly Strange

Pandemic Haircut

Every time I shave my head, my hair patch gets smaller

by Steen at February 15, 2021 09:31 AM



In what was an unplanned, yet timely celebration of my heritage, I happened to finish Bestiary by K-Ming Chang this week.


History and Heritage: I’ve never before read an American novel that:

  • contained so much of what I recognize as Taiwan

  • describes the generational PTSD experienced by Taiwan’s young people in World War II and its inherited impact on later emigre-generations. Especially important for a book published in a country that only recognizes the ravages of war on people who look like Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, etc.

  • so keenly illustrates the dual feeling of being native yet also a stranger to both sides of the Pacific Ocean

Farts: In an American society that views the body and its functions as shameful and secret, Bestiary is unabashedly intimate and corporeal. The human form is not presented as sexual or dirty, but rather the body and its fluids are considered as beautifully grotesque fact.

When my mother farts in her sleep, I shape the steam with my hands and release it outside as fog.

Magic: Every sentence and image in this book is dipped in layers of magic, meaning, and memory. The mysticism that I grew up with, that I see less and less of with each passing day, is memorialized:

Always remember to spit out the grape skins or you’ll get eyes like that too, all seed. You’ll see everything dark as light, everything loved as lost.

Audience: And there wasn’t a single italicized phrase. No bao zi or mei-mei or lao ban. For once, a book wasn’t presenting my culture for white consumption and approval; for once, a book was speaking to me (!!!)

And on the topic of identity and being seen and heard, I wanted to wish a very happy four year anniversary to dis one who embraces and wants to know every part of me. Recognizes how I’m seen and how I feel as different, understands how I look vs. where I come from as complex. Always curious of and sensitive to a cultural memory and ethnic experience that is alienated and sidelined in the US. Someone who loves me as a whole 3D human being, and not as a flattened, digestible, convenient, aestheticized image, as often happens to WOC at the hands of people their own race or otherwise. I ♥️ U PC and I thank u for loving me. 

by Claire Kao at February 15, 2021 04:30 AM


Doctor Popular

Quick Tip: Yo-Yo Heart Trick

Forgot to buy chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Don’t worry, here’s a quick tutorial on how to do the yo-yo heart trick.

If you like this, follow me on TikTok for more silly yo-yo tricks and short tutorial videos.

The post Quick Tip: Yo-Yo Heart Trick appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at February 15, 2021 04:20 AM

Vivek Sri

Word of the Day: Brunch

A late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch

The Saturday protocol was simple: open your eyes to an interrogative text, slow motion stumble out of bed, into a clean t-shirt, and directly to the end of a queue, 50 hipsters deep. Brunch in the Mission. Somebody heard this place was good, (“I heard this place was good”) so you print your name on a clipboard and issue a short, secular, prayer that the spent-the-night-in-the-Sunset straggler rounding out your party of five figures out her Uber before you are summoned by the host. (“Has anyone heard from Katie?”)

Then it is time to wait. Outside the restaurant, it’s a murmuration of retrospectives and kickoffs: “What happened to you last night? What should we do today?” Questions existential and practical but unanswerable. Every mind is crisp as fog and nobody’s had coffee except for the late-30s athleisure-clad couple near the top of the list, who’ve already clambered up and down Bernal Hill, with their doodle, hours ago.

The brunch wait is a hypoglycemic affair. I’m one of those who won’t look at a menu until I am seated. I can’t and won’t consider the blueberry pancake special unless I am a) holding a hot mug of mediocre coffee and b) epistemologically certain that I am dining at this restaurant today. Not unlike the Hollandaise bubbling somewhere inside, I have been burned too many times.

Your blood sugar plunge is resolved with mimosas, particularly the bottomless varietal. A mere $16 gets you a pint of cava and a shooting headache by 2:45pm. You shed the resultant hangover (your second of the day) in a cloud of THC on a blanket on Dolores Park. Rock breaks scissors, and paper covers rock, but can smoke smother firewater?

The shadows grow long and the Park drops 12 degrees. Everything anyone’s wearing is no match for San Francisco twilight. You saunter home for a disco nap of indefinite length, resting up for indefinite plans. The kickoff question was never answered. On the march back to our respective roommates, there are innocent bids (“Lone Palm?”), meaningless rebuttals (“It’s always busy”), and nebulous proposals (“Let’s go dancing!”). Something always ends up happening, and it’s rarely what you expect.

This was the Saturday protocol. It’s the easiest one of the week. There is one question and the question is brunch. Answer the call and bring patience. You’ll be rewarded with a $22 omelet, Millionaire’s bacon, and the frenetic blur that encircles our most ostentacious form of repast. Also known as youth.

by Word of the Day: Brunch at February 15, 2021 04:03 AM

February 14, 2021


I finally photographed the chess set I finished last year...

I finally photographed the chess set I finished last year 😅⁠

#pottery #ceramics #ceramicart #claymade #makersgonnamake #instapotter #kilnfolk #clayart #craft #craftswoman #clay #handdbuilt #ceramicglaze #chess #glazes #maker #design #art #mamamade #handmade #mothermaker #creativemamas #artist #mother #pgh #412 #pghcreative #handmadeceramics #ceramicart #slipcast — view on Instagram

February 14, 2021 05:20 PM

travis vachon

on avalanches and coops

I lived in Ithaca, New York for about five years. I was working remotely for a Bay Area tech startup writing Ruby on Rails webapps and distributed systems in Clojure and was used to tech meetups in the Bay Area so I found the local group in town and started going to "Ithaca Web People" meetups. At the time they seemed a lot smaller and a couple years behind the kind of tech talks I heard in San Francisco, but they ended up containing seeds of revolutionary potential that have quickly taken over my entire life.

Cooperative Technology

Ithaca is the birthplace of CoLab Cooperative, a group of cooperatively-minded technology and business professionals who've been running a cooperatively owned-and-operated digital agency building web and mobile applications on a shoestring budget for values-aligned organizations around the world. I met some of their member-owners at an Ithaca Web People meetup and was soon renting office space from them, co-working, sharing emacs tips and grabbing coffee with folks I could talk shop with - something I'd been dearly missing as a graduate student husband working from home a mile up a hill from downtown Ithaca.

Years later after moving back to the Bay Area I attended an event in Oakland called "User Worker Owner" after going to an event about tech cooperatives, and realized it was hosted by the very same CoLab, whose member-ownership included Oaklanders. I reached back out to my friends from co-working in Ithaca days and within a month or so was actively working on new projects for CoLab, building web and mobile applications on the latest generation of tech. My experience working CoLab's clients directly informed the work I've been doing with itme and as I'll discuss here in the future feels like a core building block of the bright new future I see coming for all of us on the World Wide Web in the coming decades.

Avalanche Consensus

At one Ithaca Web People meetup I met a man named Emin Gün Sirer, a professor of Computer Science at Cornell who studied blockchains. At the time (roughly 2012) this was still very new technology, but Professor Sirer presented some very sophisticated critiques of some of the most popular chains and of Nakamoto consensus in general. His critiques, in part, contributed to a general lack of interest on my part in the first wave of crypto - neat tech for sure, but between Professor Sirer's critiques and my own understanding of quantum computers and the threat they pose to classical encryption I was skeptical they had staying power. I later regretted not mining Bitcoin when I heard about it in 2010, but never connected my hesitation to this talk until later.

I followed Prof Sirer for years on Twitter, and watched as he attained a large following as an important voice in the Bitcoin community, frequently telling the community things they didn't want to hear backed up by rigorous research and documentation. What I didn't notice was that during this time, Sirer and his research team at Cornell were hard at work designing a next-generation consensus algorithm designed to avoid some of the shortcomings of the mechanisms that power Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and the wilderness of other cryptocurrencies that seem to be creeping into every corner of our society.

The new consensus algorithm is named Avalanche, and Sirer and his team at Ava Labs have been hard at work building the community and tools to showcase the power of their invention. They've named the open source platform they've build around Avalanche consensus Avalanche as well, and it provides the cleanest and most interesting user experience I've ever seen in the crypto space and my head is buzzing thinking about the different tools and digital artifacts we might build to complement and coordinate personal online datastore hosting at itme.

I'm very excited about this new tech from a number of different angles I hope to address in this space soon, but for now I'm happy to connect on Twitter with anyone interested in chatting more about Avalanche.


Reflecting on these two threads that grew out of this seemingly minor part of my life I'm grateful for the grace to recognize these unique seeds in the people and places I connect with every day. May I never miss the radical potential of whatever moments I find myself in this week!

February 14, 2021 12:00 AM

February 13, 2021

I Like Turtles

Midwinter pool parties


February 13, 2021 05:00 AM

February 12, 2021

Diegetic Games

One Year Anniversary of Publishing Premise

Roughly a year ago I published Premise: Setting, Character, Plot which you can now buy via I did very little promotion of it back then and didn’t write about it on this blog (blame the pandemic) so here’s a bit about the game and how it can be used.

Premise is a light collaborative worldbuilding game inspired by Exquisite Corpse and Mad Libs. 2-7 players simultaneously fill out and pass around templates and build on each others ideas. When the templates are complete, you take turns sharing the results.

It’s very beginner friendly and is fun for kids and adults. You can play it in 30-90 minutes and easily integrate it into another storytelling game (e.g. play the Setting section to build out a map, play the Character setting to create NPCs). In addition to a print-at-home PDF, the game also has Google Slides for easy Remote play.

I’m providing unlimited free community copies on Itch so don’t let your budget get in the way of checking it out.

Ways to use Premise

I recently used Premise as part of a sci-fi writing workshop – players collaboratively built settings and then used them as inspiration for solo writing. It worked really well!

I think Premise would also be a great for use in schools. For example, teachers could use it to generate creative writing prompts, create characters in historic specific period, or to explore minor characters and settings in famous literature.

I’m super happy to chat with teachers about incorporating Premise into lesson plans. If you know any that might be interested – please send Premise their way!

February 12, 2021 08:00 PM

February 09, 2021


how to dream

I usually know sleep is coming when I start to feel the swirl. When pictures or feelings start sliding into permutations. I was thinking about their dog, but now there are five dogs, now the dogs are trailing around, now the mother dog is the size of a whale, bloated in a field. The puppies are arranged in a semi-circle to the left of her and we are watching from a far window, our breath fogging up the glass. But I am also soaring above, drone-like, able to see the true size of the mother dog, the whole whaleness of her. 

I have to be careful when I start to feel the swirl to not get too excited. I have to quiet the part of me that is relieved, the part that is grateful that this night sleep is coming easily. Because if I do get too eager, the bubble will pop. The swirl is replaced by this eagerness, and then the eagerness replaced by disappointment. 

I sleep best on my right side, with a dogbone shaped pillow between my crooked elbows. I sleep best with my head on a pillow stuffed with bamboo. I haven’t found anything that helps me dream best, but I always, always dream. 

I dream best, but sleep worst, when I have enough dreams to fill the length of a marathon of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I wake up exhausted, feeling sweaty and spent from the weight of what looked like rest. Those mornings I have to shake the dreams out of my head, pull them out like stray hairs, and even then they stay nearby in wispy clumps.  

Sometimes in my dreams there is a pandemic. And when there is not a pandemic, I notice that this dream doesn’t have one. But the worst is when there is only a pandemic to me, but not for everyone else. The U-bahn in Berlin is disgustingly crowded, people are pressed against the window, wet from sweat or rain or condensation, and I forgot my mask.

When I feel scared in a dream I usually think of a lover. I try to bring them into the dream, not them, not even the shape of them, but the idea of them. The thought that they are safety. It doesn’t matter how they are in real life, if they are a  good lover, or a bad one, just that they are. 

A trick I’ve learned is to seed enough thought that the dream has something to latch onto, like how a prick of dust condenses a cloud. So tonight, when you close your eyes, try counting down from 10,000. Slowly–but not deliberately–leaving space between the numbers for things to purple and tilt. In the space between thoughts the swirl starts.

February 09, 2021 06:27 AM

February 08, 2021

Randy Lubin

Prerendering Vue for Story Synth Unfurls

This weekend I went down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to get social media unfurls to work properly for specific games in Story Synth (which is built in Vue.js). In the end, I got it working but I had to make tweaks up and down the stack to get there. Warning - this will be fairly technical and in the weeds but if someone else shares this problem hopefully it saves them some time!

Around the Realm unfurl, showing the game's logo

The Problem

Social media unfurls are when sites like Twitter or Facebook as well as messaging apps take an embedded link and expand it to show a photo and maybe a description.

Unfurls are based on a page’s metadata – you can make your own by adding the relevant meta tags to your page’s head. When I first built Story Synth, I added an image and description for the site and it shows up on any Story Synth link.

An unfurl of a link to Story Synth homepage, showing the Story Synth logo

This looks good enough for the homepage but I want specific games to have their own unfurls with the cover image for the game. Without that customization, all Story Synth links look the same at a glance.

When you make a simple static site, customization is easy, just include different meta-tags on each page. Story Synth, however, is a single page, client side app that is assembled in the user’s browser. Because the unfurl algorithms don’t use javascript, they only see the unassembled Story Synth homepage, no matter what URL they visit.

Because I wanted to keep my app client-side only (i.e. not spinning up a server for server side hosting) I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get the unfurls working properly.

The Solution

The overall solution had two main solutions:

  • Using Vue-Meta to dynamically add meta tags to custom pages
  • Using Prerender-SPA to pre-build pages with the proper metadata

But each of those required a bit of refactoring and debugging to get working properly. Here’s an overview of each library and what it took to get working properly.

Using Vue-Meta to Customize Meta Data

Story Synth is a Vue.js app that has only one page, with a bunch of custom components inside it. Depending on the URL, different content is shown via the components (e.g. game launchers, game sessions). Vue-Meta is a library that lets you update the meta tags based on what components used at a given URL.

Step One: Remove existing meta tags

First I had to remove my existing meta tags from my index.html page – otherwise I would have both the old tags and the new tags showing up on each game page.

Step Two: Install Vue-Meta

The installation process is fairly straight forward and the instructions are all available on the Vue-Meta site.

Step Three: Add Vue-Meta to the Custom Games Launcher

Once Vue-Meta was installed in the app, I had to add it to the Custom Game Launcher code.

Some context first – most Story Synth URLs end in a long string – like – the string at the end is the ID for the Google Sheet that is powering the game; it’s unwieldy but it works.

I want cleaner URLs for my own published games, so created a custom game launcher with custom pages for each of my own games. This allows URLs like – much cleaner!

To get the meta data working for these games, I added Vue-Meta to my Custom Game Launcher page with a bit of code to add the right meta values depending on which game was loaded (based on URL). The code isn’t the most exciting but you can check it out here.

This got me to a point where the game pages had the right meta data but they still weren’t viewable by the unfurl algorithms because they were still required the client to render them with javascript.

Prerendering Pages for the Unfurler

The second major chunk of work involved getting Prerender-SPA to properly create my pages in advance so the unfurler sees the full page and not just the stub with javascript instructions for further assembly.

After spending a little time trying to get Prerender-SPA to install via webpack (my least favorite part of the stack) I realized there was a Vue CLI Plugin for Prerender SPA. Using the Vue CLI was so much easier than manually installation – it downloaded the library and imported it to the right files.

The next issue I faced was switching my entire app from Hash Mode to History Mode (so becomes Luckily, this too was easier than expected.

In my main.js file, I just had to change the mode and then add a extra bit of code to make sure the old links would forward properly:

const router = new VueRouter({
  mode: 'history',
  routes // short for `routes: routes`

router.beforeEach((to, from, next) => {
   if (to.fullPath.substr(0,2) === "/#") {
    const path = to.fullPath.substr(2);

I also had to updated my firebase.json so that Firebase Hosting would properly route regardless of the intial url entered:

  "hosting": {
    "public": "dist",
    "ignore": [
    "rewrites": [
        "source": "**",
        "destination": "/app.html"
          "source": "/",
          "destination": "/index.html"

With those changes in place, I can now add as many custom games as I want, via the vue.config.js file. Here’s the code with just Around the Realm working:

module.exports = {
  pluginOptions: {
    prerenderSpa: {
      registry: undefined,
      renderRoutes: [
      useRenderEvent: true,
      headless: true,
      onlyProduction: true

Now, when I build and deploy the site, it automatically build the full pages for Around the Realm in an unfurl friendly way – success!

Next Steps

Now that I have the basic unfurl working, I’ll go back and make sure it works for all of my existing games and demos. If you’ve made a game on Story Synth and want an unfurl for it – let me know and I’ll add one.

My hope is that these unfurls make Story Synth even easier to use and share!

This weekend I went down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to get social media unfurls to work properly for specific games in Story Synth (which is built in Vue.js). In the end, I got it working but I had to make tweaks up and down the stack to get there. Warning - this will be fairly technical and in the weeds but if someone else shares this problem hopefully it saves them some time!

February 08, 2021 04:20 PM

Certainly Strange

Hakeev in the Zara Bolero

I drew Colonel Hakeev in that Zara Bolero that went viral (it’s a tits-out kind of look)

by Steen at February 08, 2021 04:17 AM